Brit Ceremony

Here is a summary of the Brit Ceremony and the different honors that can be given out at the Brit.

The mother gives the child to the Kvatterin, who passes him to the Kvatter, who then passes him to the person who will place him on the Chair of Elijah. He is then taken from the chair and given to the father, who places the child in the lap of the Sandek. The Mohel then performs the Brit. Afterwards the child is taken from the Sandek’s lap and given to the standing Sandek, the blessings are recited, and the name is given. Then the child is returned to the mother through the Kvatter and Kvatterin.

The following honors can be given to many different people, or can be given to one person.

Kvatterin (Colloquially-Godmother)

Carries baby from mother to brit room and, after the brit, back to mother.  Often, the Kvatterin and Kvatter are a couple seeking to have a child, as this honor is deemed propitious for this purpose. In some communities, the baby is passed from woman to woman, each bringing him closer to the brit room.

Kvatter (Colloquially- Godfather)

Carries baby from Kvatterin to brit area and, after the brit, back to the Kvatterin. In some communities the baby is passed from man to man, each bringing the baby closer to the brit area.

Throne of Elijah

Places baby on the chair designated as Throne of Elijah. Some place great emphasis on this honor.

From the Throne

Takes baby from the Throne of Elijah and gives him to father who places him on sandak’s lap.

Sandak

Holds baby during brit. This is the highest honor at Brit, the sandak is equated to a kohen (priest) burning incense offering in the Holy Temple.  Many single out the Rabbi or the Grandfather for this honor.

From the sandak’s lap

Takes the baby from sandak at conclusion of the circumcision and gives him to the standing sandak.

Standing Sandak

Holds baby while blessings and prayer are recited, during which baby is given his Hebrew name. Arizal, a great Kabbalist, considered this an important honor.

Reader of the blessings

Recites two blessings said following the bris. This honor is often bestowed on a Rabbi, Mohel or Sandak.

Giving the Name

Recites Prayer during which baby is given his Hebrew name. This honor is often bestowed on a Rabbi, Mohel or Sandak. This honor is often combined with that of the blessings.

Leader of Birchat HaMazon

Recites the invitation to the Grace after meal – following the festive meal; Recites Harachamon prayers. In some communities the Mohel is accorded this honor. In others, a different person recites each Harachamon prayer.